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deed at all tends to, a real amendment. But, SERM. the mind that grieves after a godly fort dwells III. on the confideration of sin as it is in itself, and in the lights wherein the scripture sets it; it considers moral evil as an error, as unbecoming the rational nature, as a deviation from the eternal and unchangeable measures of right, as offensive to, and disapproved by, the best of all beings, as ingratude to a benefactor who continually loads us with his favours, and exercises towards us the most amazing patience and tender compaffion ; to all which the gospel adds, that most powerful motive taken from the death and passion of Christ. Our glorious redeemer was, as the prophet speaks of him, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief I ; and after a life of deep humiliation, poverty and contempt, endured a most ignominious and painful death. And, when we remember that he suffered and past through all his scenes of grief for our fakes, that be might redeem us from all our iniquities, and purify to himfelf a peculiar people zealous of good works * and finally bring us to the poffeffion of an. eternal rest and blessedness in heaven; when I fay, all this is considered, it muft be a hard breast that does not relent, that can look to
bim I Ifa. liii. 3.
* Titus ii. 14.
Serm.him, that was pierced for our sins, and not III.
mourn and be in bitterness.
It is likewise very natural for men convinced, and sensibly affected with the remembrance of their transgressions, to confess them to God whom they have offended. Nature dictates a way of expressing our forrows, and reason tells us that forrow for injuries done, Thould be uttered in acknowa ledgements to the person injured. We are very ready to expect and demand it when wrong is done us, and can we question the equity of paying it when our hearts tells us we have done wrong ; especially, this homage is due to the supreme being, when we have affronted and provoked him by violating his righteous laws. The confession of fin is a reproaching ourselves in the bitterness of our spirits, as polluted by the most nauseous and loathsome thing, which we can no longer bear. It is, as the scripture speaks, taking to ourselves shame, and confusion of face, and justifying God whom our trans. gressions dishonoured, making a solemn acknowledgement of the reasonableness of his laws, and the righteousness of the sentence which he has pronounced against the evil deeds of men. At the same time, it gives glory to his mercy and the truth of his pro
mise, that he will pardon iniquity, tranf- SERM gression, and sin ; the hope of which, far · 11. from lessening the malignity of sin, in the view of a penitent, it increases it rather, as the prophet says, in the name of the Lord. Ezekiel xvi. 63. Thou shalt remember, and be ashamed and confounded, and never open thy mouth, because of thy shame, when I am pacified towards thee for all that thou haft done. For these reafons, the confeffion of fin is often enjoin'd in fcripture, and great promises are made to the sincere performance of it; yet the stress is not laid on the performance itself, but the value of it depends on its tendency to a reformation, which, chiefly, is well-pleasing to God.
The result will certainly be a change of mind and affections from evil to good, a disposition to alter our course of action; for it is altogether an inconsistent supposition, that we should be sorry for having offended, and acknowledge it with shame, at the same time resolving that we will continue in the fame course. But still all these are only preparations for repentance, it is not finifh'd in them. · It's true characteristic is a deliberate and resolved change of temper and behaviour; a firm purpose of amendment thoroughly exei cuted; resolving to keep God's righteous judg
SERM.ments, and immediately entering upon the III. actual performance of it; no more fashioning
ourselves according to the former lufts in ignorance, but as be that hatb called us is holy, becoming boly in all manner of conver
To convince us of this, which I take to be a point of very great moment ; let us, forf, consider the express declarations of scripture concerning it. The apostle Paul discoursing of godly forrow, and certainly none can have a better character, it comprehends every good qualification of sorrow for fin) says I, it svorketh repentance unto salvation not to be res perted of ; not that it is repentance unto falvation, for he maketh a plain difference as between the means and the end ; the occafon or preparation and the effect. Besides, in a great many other passages, a pious and virtuous life, a perfevering obedience and patient continuance in well doing, is the condition of our obtaining eternal life; which indeed is contained in repentance, but not in forrow, confeflion of fin, or good inclinations. On the other hand, a vitious character and wicked behaviour, disqualifies men for the kingdom of God, whatever geir griefs, humiliations, and pious desires,
and + 2 Cor, väPe
and purposes may be. The of adultérer's the Sermo forcerer, the railer, the covetous, the drunk- III. ard, shall not inherit the kingdom of God; tho’ they should often with deep humility and regret confess their sins, and in their confefsions and griefs incline and resolve to alter their course of life ; yet they do it not, but it happens to them according to the proverb; as St. Peter expresses it, || The dog is turned to his own vomit again ; and the fow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.
I think no attentive perfon can doubt but this is the doctrine of the holy seriptures upon the head of repentance ; at least, that a virtuous course of life, ordering our con- , versations aright, being undefiled in the way, walking in the law of the Lord, doing no iniquity, and keeping God's precepts diligently, is absolutely and indispensably necessary to qur being blessed in enjoying the favour of God. It is a wonder that any christians should have gone into other sentiments; some even in speculation and opinion, many more in the secret fond presumption of their hearts, not supported by any avowed principle, imagining that humiliation, and contrition, and ineffectual purposes of amendment, would at last be sufficient to their acceptance with Vol. I.
ti Cor. vi. 9.
1 2 Pet. ii, 22.